Domain Names, Hosting, and Site Automation
If you’re intending to do business from your web site, it is essential that you have high quality, reliable web site hosting, and your own Domain Name.
While some people starting out on a shoestring budget will find it necessary to use free web space, this does nothing to enhance the professional image of your online business, and quite probably will hurt it. If at all possible, get your own domain name, and pay for web site hosting.
Think about it. Would you prefer to buy something from someone who can’t afford his own web site and uses a Hotmail account for his e-mail, or from someone who has a nice-looking website hosted on its own domain, and whose e-mail address goes through the web site? Which one looks more professional, and gives you as a potential customer more confidence and peace of mind?
Domain Name Registration
While domain name registration used to be quite costly, it has gotten down to the very affordable range. You’ll still find companies that want to charge you in excess of $30 per year for simple DNS registration, but there are plenty of high-quality, reputable Domain Name Registrars out there who will give you excellent service for around $10 per year per domain. It makes no sense at all to pay any more than that, nor do you have to!
Web Site Hosting Providers
There are a wealth of excellent companies out there eager to host your web site. While you can also get free hosting, it is a poor choice for an internet business, and you’re only saving about $10 a month or less. Using free hosting gives your business a “cheap” look, and can cost you in other ways. I advise strongly against it. If you can’t afford even a few hundred dollars to start your internet business, it is all but pointless to do so, in my opinion. This need not cost you a fortune, but it isn’t absolutely free, either.
To give you all the details, and some links to the highest quality hosting providers I’ve found, I’ve prepared a separate page with all the information you’ll need. These are all very highly rated web site hosting providers.
Getting Ready for E-commerce
The first choice is to work with Clickbank. For a small setup fee, and a percentage of your sales, they will take and process your orders, and send you a check each month. This also gives you a ready-made affiliate sales force, since Clickbank is primarily an affiliate-sales portal. Clickbank member affiliates advertise and promote your product at a commission rate that you choose, most commonly around 50%. You are, of course, free to choose any commission percentage that you prefer.
By the way, if you sell products through Clickbank, either as a vendor or as an affiliate, you may want to check out the collection of ClickBank Tools that I’ve assembled. Both vendors and affiliates should be aware of and protected against download theft and “link hijacking”. These tools do the job, and will pay for themselves in a short period of time.
Your second choice is to have integrated order processing on your website, and run your own affiliate program, if you choose to. This will cost you a bit more per month than Clickbank, but you can choose
not to pay affiliate commissions, or to be selective in who your affiliates are and how much commission you pay. Some people pay one set of commissions to most affiliates, but offer higher commissions to high-volume sellers (i.e., “super affiliates”).
Ordinarily you’d need a merchant account to do this, but my own shopping cart service and website automation solution takes care of that for you, and even gives you autoresponders and database management as part of the deal. You
can sell ebooks and other downloadable products, as well as being able to sell physical products that you ship yourself or that you have drop-shipped from a supplier. You can accept payment via PayPal
and/or any of 50 online credit card processing gateways.
Finally, you may want to simplify things by signing up with a web site host that provides integrated order processing as part of their service. I’ve recently begun using such a hosting service, and can’t say enough about it. Your hosting account includes expiring download pages for digital products that you sell, password protection of directories, and a shopping cart that interfaces with several major credit-card processing and merchant account service providers, including PayPal. You can sell either digital or physical products, can set up and manage your own affiliate program, or run a paid membership site. This is truly an all inclusive e-commerce web site hosting solution.
Email and Autoresponders
Basic email functions can be handled by any of several excellent email programs. These are well worth the small investment, and you can actually use them for free, if you’re willing to put up with looking at ads every time you open your email sofware.
You probably will also want to consider setting up an autoresponder
An autoresponder is a great tool if you send out mass mailings, want to build a mailing list through an automated subscription form on your site, or you intend to publish a newsletter, which you’ll discover elsewhere on our site is highly recommended.
O.K., you have registered your URL, you have designed your site, found your web hosting, and obtained a shopping cart or other merchant services you need, as well as squaring away your email client and autoresponder. We are just about ready to launch this internet business startup and begin making some money.
It’s time to learn a few marketing techniques to help promote your site. The next things to learn about are email newsletters and permission e-mail marketing. Then we’ll explore how to track your success, and finally give you some marketing tips, as well as teaching you a bit about how to get indexed by the search engines and directories.